Saturday, March 31, 2012

Tree of Life Day 55: John 10-12

I love the story of Lazarus in John 11.  There are two phrases that get to me every time I read it.

First, when Mary comes out to see Jesus, overwhelmed with grief, half unfiltered honesty and half unswerving faith, Jesus weeps.

How great is that?  The God who has everything in control and is not in the least bit worried about anything and who knew that He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead wept with Mary.  He could've just started smiling and said, "Hey, watch this cool trick."  He could've said nothing and got to the miracle-working business.  But He wept.

And I think in our pain, God not only knows what it's like but emotes with us.

Second, when Lazarus comes out of the grave, he has to have help getting his grave clothes off.  Jesus delivered him, but others helped him experience that freedom.

What a great picture of the Body of Christ:  helping each other experience the freedom Jesus brings.


Friday, March 30, 2012

Tree of Life Day 54: Luke 18-19

If you'd like to know what the model of repentance is, you can look no further than Zaccheus.

Jesus has rocked his world.  We don't know what was said around the dinner table that night, but it messed Zaccheus up to the core.  Whether he sat there drooling olive oil into his beard or whether he held it together long enough to make it to the bathroom before he lurched, we don't know.  In fact, we don't know much about the little guy with the Lord God.

But we do know it's result.

He gives away half his stuff.

He pays back with significant interest those whom He has defrauded - the amount x4.

Generosity and a sense of reconciliation.  Seems like pretty good marks of repentance to me.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Tree of Life Day 53: Mark 5-9

A little late in posting today due to some of our medical stuff.  Thanks for letting me presume upon your understanding.

I love what Jesus told the Gerasene demoniac in Mark 5.
Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he had mercy on you (v.19).
I love that because of two things:

It's a constant reminder of how much the Lord has had mercy on me.  If I'm consistently telling the story of God's mercy in my life, it's a reminder that I am a recipient of mercy and not an earner of favor.

It's also an invitation, even a command, to glorify God through the story of mercy that you get to share.  If God has indeed had mercy on us, why wouldn't we tell of this to everyone?  Why wouldn't we tell of how He has taken sick, selfish, self-destructive people and made them whole and holy?  Of course we would!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Tree of Life Day 52: John 3-5

Within these chapters are some pretty famous Bible teachings if you grew up around any sort of Christian influence.  You have God's message of love in John 3.16.  You have the powerful word on worship in John 4.23-24.  And you have an incredible warning to those who are religious but not relational in John 5.39.  It's all incredible stuff and just as deep as you'd ever want to go.

But as we've been doing in the sermon series, let's zoom the camera out a little bit and take a larger look at the encounters in John 3 and 4.

In John 3 it's the religious Nicodemus.  In John 4 it's the immoral woman from Samaria.  Here's the part I want to point out:  Jesus was perfectly comfortable and precisely confrontational with both.  He didn't mind talking to either of them, the upstanding citizen or the scorned just-short-of-prostitute.  But He also didn't mince words with either of them.  He confronted them both with their sin and lack of understanding of how things really are and how they really work.

You think it's your Jewish lineage that makes you so great?  You must be born again.

You think you can get a drink that satisfies?  I have living water.

Whether we encounter those who are religious or completely irreligious, Jesus has a Word for them.  And probably for us too...

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tree of Life Day 51: Matthew 5-7

Disclaimer:  I absolutely love this passage of the Scripture.  If I could encourage you to memorize a passage in the Bible, this would be the one.  I once preached a series on this - a series that lasted a mere 37 weeks.  Three chapters.  37 weeks.  It was life-changing for me and for many who tolerated it.

Of all the things I love about what is typically called the Sermon on the Mount, this is my favorite:  it's relevance.  Jesus' teaching is simply bursting with it.

Anger.  Lust.  Marriage.  Language.  Spiritual growth.  Religious phonies.  Worry.  Discernment.  Relationships.  Looking ahead.  And on and on I could go - in fact I did, for 37 weeks.

I think most people read the Sermon like it's a religious treatise on morality from a guy who lived a long time ago.  They have no idea of the relevance that is right before them if they will simply take Jesus seriously and at His Word.

After all, He did say that He came to fulfill the Law, not abolish it.  And for those of us with Jesus living on the inside, that same kind of Law-fulfilling impulse is in us.  And that is the path along which transformed people walk - a walk they make with their everyday, run of the mill, standard issue lives, not the lives they wish they were living or they portray to be living.  Real life.  But it all begins with taking Him seriously.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Tree of Life Day 50: Matthew 1-2, Luke 2

I brought up in yesterday's sermon, especially in light of our current political climate and the Republican front runner being a Mormon, the fact that the Bible unequivocally and univocally teaches that Jesus is God.  Check this out:

An angel of the Lord appeared and the glory of the Lord dazzled the shepherds, who received the announcement about a savior, who is Christ the Lord, and to which they responded:  we should check out what the Lord has made known to us (Luke 2.9-15).
  • God obviously sent the angels.  And the shining glory was from God.  The message was received as from God.  Yet Christ is given the same title:  Lord.
Simeon saw Jesus presented at the temple, this Christ who is the Lord.  He came under the Holy Spirit's influence, having been promised that the Lord's Christ (remember, who is the Lord) would appear (Luke 2.25-27).
  • So here we go again.  The Christ, who is the Lord and belongs to the Lord, was going to show up as revealed by the Spirit.  Therein is the mystery of the Trinity:  one God in three persons.
He's not some guy that God chose to be the Messiah.  He's God, come to earth, the Messiah of His people.

To be clear:  Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons don't agree with that.  They will grant Jesus the title "Son of God" but mean something very different than Christians do.  They do NOT believe that Jesus is God.

Ironically, after riffing on that in the sermon, guess who knocked on my door?  Stephanie and Mark, members of the Watchtower Society and Jehovah's Witnesses.  Because of the health challenges at our house right now, I didn't engage them but thanked them and took their material (straight to the trash).

When they come back, and they will, I hope to have the time to share with them that Jesus is God and that means that the greatest news of all time isn't a fairy tale.  Only God could take the blow of His own wrath in a redemptive way.  And that's what happened at the cross.  God's wrath was satisfied by the same God, which is our only way to salvation.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sermon Notes from Sunday 3.25.12

These are the sermon notes from Sunday, 3.25.12.  You can find the sermon audio and these notes in PDF at our website  The sermon audio is also available on iTunes via our podcast.

Tree of Life
Part 8 - The King and His Kingdom
Matthew 4.17-25

What is happening?

Jesus is miraculously born.

He grows normally.

Jesus declares the Kingdom through preaching.

Jesus demonstrates the Kingdom through power.

What does it mean?

God makes His Kingdom available.
  • The Kingdom is brought, not sent.
  • The Kingdom is near.
  • The Kingdom is for followers.
  • The Kingdom transforms followers.
  • The Kingdom is inclusive.

Tree of Life Day 48: Luke 1, Matthew 3

I wish I could imagine a modern day John the Baptist.  I know plenty of people have assumed they were like John, justifying their strange behavior and harsh words.  But no one could ever say of them that they were (or are) the greatest human being (cf. Matthew 11).

And their messages have not endured.  But John's has.  And it's still a powerful message for us today:  repent for the Kingdom of the Heavens is at hand.  The Kingdom is not some far-away event or entity.  It is a present reality.

And the call hasn't changed either:  repent.  It's a powerful word that we must hear and heed.  We must rethink our thinking and, resultantly, change our lives.  Sound like a plan?  But we can't do it ourselves, which is why we need Jesus not only to forgive us but give us new life by His Spirit, a resurrection kind of life.

And that's good news.  Because Jesus is willing.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Tree of Life Day 47: Psalms 145-150

I love this promise in light of our family situation right now:
The LORD upholds those who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down. (Ps. 145.14)
And I bet in light of what you're facing you can absolutely and unswervingly hold to that promise too.  No matter where you are or what is coming around the corner, this is true.

And He's near (v.18).  It's the promise and theme of the year for our little gathering of saints called Heritage Park.  God is near.

I need both of those today.  How about you?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Tree of Life Day 46: Psalms 126-134

There are such great consolations and promises in these Psalms of Ascent. One that popped out today is from Psalm 130. How good is this?

If the Lord were to count iniquities against us, we'd all be hosed. But with Him instead we find forgiveness.

And then this: we find forgiveness that He should be feared.

Now just how good is that? We have forgiveness so that God can get the appropriate and well-deserved praise from hearts that are rightly oriented before Him. Rightly understood, forgiveness produces worship and the kind of reverence that makes us not want to sin and thus need more forgiveness.


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Tree of Life Day 45: Psalm 120-125

In these Psalms of Ascent, those making the pilgrimage to Jerusalem found solace, instruction, and hope in their day.

And today, Psalm 121 is offering me the same kinds of things.

My help comes from the LORD, the maker of heaven and earth and brave 9-year old boys.

When I doze off tonight, the LORD will still be awake, vigilant, watching, and superintending all of life.

The LORD is my keeper.

The LORD is my shade from an aridity in life, especially the kind that develops during trial.

The LORD keeps our lives.

That's a heart-full today.  Amen.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tree of Life Day 44: Malachi 1-4

I honestly think some of the language of the prophets gets lost in translation.  I think they might have been a little more disturbing, even violent, in their language than translators and Bible publishers will allow.  Malachi seems to be one of those and I'll give you a mere one example.
Behold, I will rebuke your offspring, and spread dung on your faces, the dung of your offerings, and you shall be taken away with it (2.3).
Are you offended?  I mean, the message is pretty clear.  Your worship is crap ("the dung of your offerings").   How about now?  What if they had translated it with an even harsher, coarser, more profane word?

And now this question:  are you more offended at the language or that the worship of God was profaned by the ministers of the day?  Am I more offended by my ears hearing that or by my heart seeing God dishonored?

A minister named Tony Campolo spoke at my alma mater several years ago and had this line in his message:
40,000 kids are starving to death today in our world and the only thing worst than that is that most of us in this room, if we're honest with ourselves, don't give a sh--.  *Dramatic Pause*  And the only thing worst than that is that most of you are more offended that I said sh-- than you are that so many kids are dying.
There's a lot of prophetic truth in that, isn't there?

But God forbid we should ever be more offended by the delivery of the message than the sin that necessitated it.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Tree of Life Day 43: Zephaniah 1-3

Sorry for the late post (for all 3 of you who read this blog).  It's that kind of Monday in that kind of week.

Reading Zephaniah today as the transition between exile and the return from exile of Judah, I was struck by this phrase in 1.12:  "Those who say in their hearts, 'The Lord will not do good, nor will He do ill.'"  The context is God's promise to bring a restorative kind of cleansing to His people.  They longed for the Day of the Lord but it was going to be a whooping instead of a party.  They thought they were longing for one thing but another thing was coming.

And inside of that was this apathetic, complacent, ill-informed little gem:  there are those who presume God's not going to do good nor will He do ill.  They lived as if God was going to be as apathetic and complacent as they were.  Whoops.

Because God may do ill by judgment.  He may do good by mercy.  But, as we talked about on Sunday, even in the silence of the heavens for a season, God is not doing nothing.  He's never inactive.  And He's certainly neither apathetic nor complacent.

Don't ever let us make that mistake.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sermon Notes from Sunday 3.18.12

Here are today's sermon notes from today's sermon in the series Tree of Life.  To get the sermon audio and these notes in PDF, visit  You can also get the sermon audio on iTunes via our podcast.

Tree of Life
Part 7 – And then there was Silence
Isaiah 50.10

What is happening?

Act 1:  The people rebuild the temple and anticipate God’s arrival.

Act 2:  400+ years of silence.

Act 3:  John the Baptist announces the availability of God’s Kingdom.

What does it mean?

God is at work, even in the midst of silence.

Am I rightly oriented toward God in my heart?

Am I rightly related to God in my actions?

Am I rightly postured for God to speak and move?

What would I consider Good News?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Tree of Life Day 41: Nehemiah 1-6

Where did Nehemiah's strength, clarity, and sense of purpose originate?

"O LORD God of Heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love Him and keep His commandments..." (Nehemiah 1.5).

Great things get accomplished when there's a great vision of God.  Great things get attempted - no matter the outcome - when there's a great vision of God.  Nehemiah left his place of comfort and ease in the royal palace of Susa for a desolate, forsaken, no-guarantee Jerusalem.  And what started that?  His vision of the greatness of God.

Tie that to this...
All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth.  Therefore go make disciples of all peoples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always even to the end of the age.
What kind of crazy command is that?  And what kind of men and women embark on such a mission?  Those who have a sense that Jesus reigns over everything and that He's with them no matter the circumstance in which they find themselves, even to the very end.

So what kind of "crazy" thing is God calling you to do?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Tree of Life Day 40: Ezekiel 33-37

These are probably the most famous chapters in the prophetic book of Ezekiel.  There are a lot of New Testament themes that get picked up from here, such as the water and Spirit in Ezekiel 36 referenced by Jesus in John 3.

And I'm haunted by this passage.  Scared even.

The first few verses of chapters 33 and 34 are riveting to me.  As a pastor who regularly speaks to God's people on behalf of God (or at least hopefully on His behalf), I take warnings like these seriously.

If I'm told by God, through His Word or otherwise, to do something and I don't, the outcome is on me.  Even when it's a message for someone else, their blood is on my hands.  Sobering.  And it's not easy or fun to be the prophet (though I've met a few who thought they were prophets who also thought it was fun).  Prophets often end up dead.

If I seek my own comfort instead of feeding sheep, strengthening the weak, healing the sick, binding up the injured, bringing back the stray, seeking the lost, and shepherding them gently, I'm in big trouble with the Chief Shepherd.  Major trouble.  Huge trouble.  And there's no doubt it's work.  And it's not easy nor convenient.  There's a self-crucifixion gene in Kingdom DNA.

So that brings me to me (and you can listen along if you'd like)...

Are there things I know I should do that I'm not doing?

Are there things I know I should be saying that I'm not saying?

Are there things I know I should be seeking that I'm not seeking?

There's a lot at stake for "them" and me.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Tree of Life Day 39: Esther 2-8

What a great story in the reading today!  The book of Esther is good literature.

And it also has in it something to celebrate and remember for a Thursday:  there is an invisible hand in everything.

This is not Adam Smith's invisible hand.  But you might have noticed that "God" (in name or idea) is not mentioned in the book of Esther.  So why in the world, in a book about God and written by God, would you include a story that doesn't mention Him?  Because He's in the details of life even when you don't know it.

Who gave Esther favor in the King's sight?

Who caused the King to spare her life when she appeared before him?

Who allowed Mordecai to hear of the plot against the king at the gate?

Who kept the king up such that the chronicles were read to him?


I could keep going.  But I think you get the point.  There is God, behind the scenes, acting providentially to accomplish His purpose for His people, even in a foreign land.

We just need eyes to see it.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Tree of Life Day 38: Jeremiah 29-33

I love the sweeping promise of 33.3.  And it has little do with answers to our prayers.  It has everything to do with revelation.  He promises to reveal to us things that we don't know.

Answers?  Yes.  But revelation.  That's where the life is.

Because there are days when there are no easy answers.  There are days when there are no answers at all. No one can answer the "why."  No one can predict the "what's next."

But to hear God say, "I'm faithful."  To hear the thunder of, "I'm in control."  That's life.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tree of Life Day 37: Daniel 1-6

I've often wondered if I could genuinely make some of the statements in the Bible that I love to quote.  Try this one on for size:  to live is Christ, to die is gain.  What does that look like when you have cancer and have been told to get your house in order?  When you're a soldier who is laboring under the attack of an enemy and trying to save yourself and your comrades?

Or this one from today's reading:  "If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of your hand, O King.  But if not, be it known to you, O King, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up" (Daniel 3.17-18).

Gutsy.  Courageous.

A celebrated statement of faith, no doubt.  And rightly so.

But could it have been my statement?  Could it have been yours?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Tree of Life Day 36: 2 Kings 21-25

How great are revivals?

If you've ever been a part of a genuine move of God on a grand scale, then you know what that experience is like and how it shapes you and your understanding of God and the world.  Such was the experience of a group of people under Josiah.

And where did it begin?  It began with paying attention to the Word of God (which was found after being gone for some time) and genuine repentance.

Lord, grant us these too for Your name's sake.  Amen.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

KONY 2012

Just watch it.  Give me 30 minutes of your time and watch it.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Tree of Life Day 34: Isaiah 53-58

Picking up where Amos left off, Isaiah blisters the Religious Duty Party who think that they have God cornered since they fast and pray and perform their appropriate religious functions.  They have the audacity to ask God why they fasted and He hasn't paid attention to their pain.  Like a kid who quits crying when you leave the room and starts it back up when you enter it again, they were fasting merely to get their way.

But what is God's chosen fast?  First, let me buffer this (ever so slightly) by pointing out that Jesus is for fasting.  Don't get that wrong.

But, if we fast and don't loose the bonds of wickedness and undo the straps of the yoke to let the oppressed go free and share our bread with the hungry and see someone naked and clothe him, then our fasting doesn't do us much good.

Religious functions are not enough.  Doing the right thing has to accompany them.  And the only way a person does the right thing is through the transformational power of the Holy Spirit, sent by Jesus Christ and the Father, to take up residence inside of everyone who trusts in Truth of the Gospel.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Tree of Life Day 33: Hosea 1-3, 6

What do you think is on the heart of God?  His passion.  His heartbeat.

According to the readings to day, it's not so much about the religious functions as it is the relational functions.  Not sacrifice but steadfast love.  Not burnt offerings but knowledge of God.

Steadfast love is the Hebrew word chesed (also spelled hesed, with a hard 'h').  It means the covenant love that God has for His people.  God desires that back.  He loves us.  He wants to be loved back.  Now that isn't in a Sally Fields Oscar speech kind of way.  God's not up there wondering if we like Him, if we really like Him.  His love sets us free to love Him for all eternity.  And that's what's on His heart - that we love Him like He loves us for all eternity.  Relationship.

The knowledge of God is not the knowledge about God.  Don't confuse the two.  Plenty of people know a lot about God without knowing the God they study.  But our God is a God who longs to be known by His people.  He is passionate about revealing Himself and relating to those that belong to Him.

Not religion.  Relationship.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Tree of Life Day 32: Micah 5-7

There's a verse in Micah 7 that I just can't let go of - or it won't let go of me.

"I will bear the indignation of the LORD because I have sinned against Him..." (v.9)  I get that part.  Boy do I get it.  All to familiar with my sinning against Him.

"...until He pleads my cause and executes judgment for me.  He will bring me out to the light.  I shall look upon His vindication." (again, v.9).

You didn't miss it did you?  Did you see it in there?

I'm the one who is guilty.  But He pleads my case.  He does it.  God pleads my cause and executes judgment for me.  It's the Gospel!  Right there in Micah 7!  I'm guilty but God pleads my case and works justice so that I'm on the right side when it's all said and done.

I get brought into the light.  And God does it.

I look upon His vindication.  How will God vindicate me?  By paying for the sin that I have committed such that I owe Him nothing but everything all in the same moment.

So whether it's for the 1000th time or the 1st time, I can count on a faithful God to forgive my sin and cleanse me from unrighteousness.  Amazing.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Tree of Life Day 31: Amos 4-8

God doesn't want us to go to church.

Can you let that sink in for a minute?  

No.  Seriously.  Quit thinking I'm being funny or provocative and just let it sink in.

"Take away from Me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps [guitars, organs, keyboards, drums - the instrument of your choosing] I will not listen..." (Amos 5.23).

Can you imagine if an angel of the Lord showed up Sunday morning and told all of us to go home because God had this kind of message like that for us?  No singing.  No Powerpoint slides.  No Chris Tomlin songs.  Just go home.

He told the northern kingdom of Israel that because He meant it.  He didn't want them to go to church.  In fact, it was worse than that:  the very instruments of their worship were what offended Him.  They thought they were praising God when they were provoking Him.  So go home!

He wanted them - and He wants us - to BE the church.

"But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream" (Amos 5.24).

And there's a big difference.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Tree of Life Day 30: 2 Kings 11-12, 17-19

Can you imagine a day in the future when the President of the United States orders the destruction of the Statue of Liberty?  His justification?  We've become too enamored with the idea of liberty and not the doing of it.

First, what kind of President would that be?

Second, what might the country be going through such that he would need to make that decision?

Third, what would the backlash be?

And that's what happened in 2 Kings 18.  The people had made offerings to the bronze serpent that Moses had made at the command of the Lord to turn back an attack of snakes (Numbers 21).  What had been a symbol of their salvation was now an idol that separated them from God.

And the godly king Hezekiah destroyed it.


Monday, March 5, 2012

You'll need 34 minutes...

But it's worth every moment.  Eric Metaxas wrote the Bonhoeffer biography that I posted about a few months ago.  This is a gem.

And it covers exactly what we talked about this past Sunday regarding dead and empty religion.  You want to know what some of those prophets sounded like?  It might have been just like this...

Tree of Life Day 29: 2 Kings 3-6

Well, first of all, let me introduce you to a mistake.  The reading guide is supposed to say, "1 Kings 3-6."  So if you stopped here first, I'd encourage you to read the 1 Kings version rather than the misprinted 2 Kings version.  And if you're looking to blame someone, put it on me.  With all the eyes that looked over that document and sent it off to PDF-land and the iDevice app, the ones that mattered were mine and I missed this typo.  Sorry, folks.

But there's still a great story in 2 Kings 4.  Elisha prays for the Shunnamite's son and raises him from the dead.  And how exactly did he do that?

He put his mouth on his mouth, his hands on his hands, and his eyes on his eyes.  Sounds a little gross.  Certainly uncomfortable for those of us with the typical 36 inches of personal space in the western world.

But sometimes that's exactly what we need.  We need someone to get so close that they can breathe life into us when we're dying or dead.  We need someone that up in our business so that when death-bringing sin is destroying us, they're life from Jesus can breathe life into what might seem like a hopeless cycle of addiction or destruction in what remains of our lives.


You might be that person for someone else.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Sermon Notes from 3.4.12

Here are the sermon notes from today's sermon in the Tree of Life series.  You can find these notes in PDF and the sermon audio at  You can also download the audio on iTunes via our podcast.

Tree of Life
Part 5 – The Slow Death of a Nation
Micah 6.6-8

Four Currents
  • Rejection of Yahweh for other gods
  • Tolerance of wickedness
  • Greed leads to oppression of the weak
  • External religion instead of internal transformation

What is Happening?
  • Solomon becomes king, exercises wisdom, builds the temple, and practices idolatry.
  • The Kingdom of Israel fractures into two:  Israel and Judah. 
  • Many kings come and go in both kingdoms, some good and others evil.
  • The northern kingdom of Israel is conquered in 722 B.C. by the Assyrians.
  • Throughout, God ensures a witness and a remnant.

What does it Mean?

God is faithful to a faithless people.
  • Our call is to faithfulness.
  • To do the right thing.
  • To love people well. 
  • To honor God.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Tree of Life Day 27: 2 Samuel 11-15

Today's story is the story of the fracture of David's household because of David's sin.  It's depressing to read, honestly.  Maybe because if you are reading this, you probably know people (like I do) that have similar decline or destruction in their lives.

But what jumped out at me in today's reading was Nathan being sent by the Lord to David to confront him.  Not only was it incredibly wise in the manner by which Nathan confronted the King, but simply the fact that God sent him.

Confrontation is a strange kind of mercy, but it is mercy.

God refused to allow David to remain in his sin.  He refused to let the distance grow between them.  He refused to let David be hollowed out by unconfessed sin.  God wanted to restore the relationship.

So He sent a confronter.


It's the same kind of mercy when we're under conviction by the Holy Spirit.  God doesn't want our bones to waste away with our sin (Ps. 32).  He sends the Spirit to convict and bring us back into a restored relationship to Him.  It doesn't feel good.  It means we owe up to mistakes and admit faults.  But it's mercy.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Tree of Life Day 26: 1 Samuel 15-17

Leadership sometimes means doing what's right and not what's popular.

Saul didn't kill the Amalekite king Agag as God had ordered because he was afraid of the people in his army, who just so happened to want the best of the livestock too.  Ulterior motives not withstanding, Saul didn't do what the Lord had commanded him to do.  He was swayed by opinion polls and nationwide surveys.  Some pundit on some cable channel convinced the listeners that this was the better way, and they, in turn, convinced Saul - or at least made him a coward.

The best possible situation is when the right thing is also the popular thing.  The next possible situation is when you can convince people that the right thing is the right thing and it becomes the popular thing.

But sometimes it means doing the right thing no matter who says what or who stands opposite or the consequences that may come.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Tree of Life Day 25: 1 Samuel 8-10

Sometimes we don't know what we're asking for when we pray.  I don't think that should hinder our honesty or thwart our boldness.  But maybe it should slow the pace by which we ask.  Boldness before the throne of God doesn't have to equal impetuousness.  Honesty before the Lord doesn't necessarily mean blurting out whatever comes to mind.

"We want a King."  That had implications and consequences.

"I want a __________."

"God, you need to _________."

Prayer is certainly a balancing act between the invitation to boldness by God our Father and remembering that I'm being bold before the King of the Universe.  It's not either-or but both-and.

How does that change your prayer life today?